FORT BLISS, Texas (February 18, 2016) -- As the next generation of vehicles are being built to facilitate Army modernization, the next generation of future engineers are setting the foundation for their potential career paths.

El Paso high school students have been visiting the System of Systems Engineering and Integration, Capability Package Directorate's Integration Motor Pool (IMP) at Fort Bliss, Texas during preparation for the Army's Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, 16.2 exercise this spring.

The Capability Package Directorate, which provides engineering and systems integration support for the Army's semi-annual NIE and Army Warfighting Assessment events, is now building the network and integrating equipment for the Soldier-led testing exercise. As the central location for NIE preparation activities, the IMP and its technologies serve as a hands-on learning environment for the students.

On Feb. 11, high school students gathered at the IMP as the El Paso Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Foundation, in conjunction with the Brigade Modernization Command, announced the Five Star Innovation Cup STEM Competition. The competition, scheduled for Mar. 5, will challenge students in a selection of robotics and science-related activities.

A variety of Army vehicles were on display as the backdrop, exhibiting the types of technology Soldiers will evaluate at NIE 16.2. Students from Clint High School, El Dorado High School, and Parkland High School learned about the Army vehicles and the technology within them. In turn, the students also demonstrated their robots that catapult foam balls into the air to Army leaders.

"These kids have done a tremendous job on their projects; it's refreshing to see such great interest in science and engineering in students at this age," said Col. Terrece Harris, director, Capability Package. "We want to encourage students to pursue a career in the sciences and I hope they left knowing that one day they can be the engineers creating the technology to protect our future Soldiers."

In addition, Capability Package also hosted a field trip for Chapin High School's Engineering Magnet School students. They were able to learn about the overall process that goes into designing and creating capabilities for the Army. Vehicles were also on display for students to view the integration process for various systems, and understand what those systems provide for the Soldier.

Nicole Avila, a sophomore at Chapin High School who would like to study Biomedical Engineering, found it eye-opening to see the technology that was involved in enhancing Soldiers' awareness while out in the field.

"We got to really see the inside of these vehicles. I always pass by them, but I never knew about all the technology that they have on them such as the computers, the sensors, and lasers that are able to detect things," Avila said.

At first, many students were unaware of the technology the Army produces, but most left the IMP knowing what they are learning in class is applicable in the real world and can be applied to missions much larger than themselves.